A strong economy and bull market made 2017 a good year for many regional companies. Metals, energy companies were among the top performers.

Verizon Communications maintained its stranglehold as the Pittsburgh region’s best-performing public company, winning the title for the sixth straight year based on first-place finishes in four of the seven factors used to compile the Post-Gazette’s rankings.

The New York telecommunications company took in more revenue and profits than any of the 60 companies included in the review list. Companies are chosen for the list because they are either based in Western Pennsylvania or have a major presence here that makes them a factor in the region’s economy.

A strengthening economy and the enduring bull market made 2017 a good year for many companies operating in the region.

Top winners overall

The Post-Gazette Top 50 based on a company’s overall performance during its most recently reported fiscal year, calculated using revenue and net income, change in revenue and net income, market cap, stock price change and return on equity.

Source: Company reports, Bloomberg

See our full rankings of the top 50 companies.

Fifty-one of the 60 companies analyzed reported revenue growth and turned a profit. Forty-seven of them reported stronger profits than they earned in 2016, and the stock prices of 39 of them rose over the course of the year.

In addition to taking the top overall ranking, Verizon also had the highest return on equity and largest market capitalization, which is based on the number of its shares on the market multiplied by its closing stock price on Dec. 29, the last trading day of 2017. It didn’t fare as well in the other three categories: growth in revenue, growth in net income and how well the company’s stock performed last year.

Philadelphia-based Comcast, the owner of cable systems and NBC Universal, finished second for the third consecutive year with top five finishes in four of the seven categories.

EQT was one of four Pittsburgh-based companies to finish in the Top 10 for overall performance, placing third. And the Downtown-based natural gas producer achieved the top growth among the 60 companies considered. The ranking is based on growth in revenue and net income, 2017 stock price appreciation, and return on equity.

EQT recorded the most growth in net income over 2016 and the second-highest growth in revenue.

Top 10 Pittsburgh companies by market cap

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Universal Stainless & Alloy Products of Bridgeville placed second in the growth rankings and 10th overall. After failing to turn a profit in 2016, the specialty steel producer recorded the third best growth in net income in 2017. The company also had the fourth-best performing stock and placed seventh in revenue growth.

Alcoa, which relocated its headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York, placed ninth overall and sixth based on growth.

The miner and aluminum producer had the region’s second-best performing stock last year. Only shares of L.B. Foster, a Green Tree company that supplies the energy and transportation infrastructure markets, did better.

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Kraft Heinz, the food giant that splits its headquarters between Pittsburgh and Chicago, placed seventh overall on the strength of Top 10 rankings in revenue, net income, income growth and market cap categories. But low rankings for revenue growth and an 11 percent slide in the price of its stock last year limited the maker of Heinz ketchup and Kraft macaroni and cheese to a 19th place finish in the growth category.

The growth rankings were dominated by energy and metals producers — two sectors that rebounded in 2017.

In addition to EQT, Universal Stainless and Alcoa, Cecil natural gas producer CNX Resources, Range Resources of Fort Worth, Texas, and Pittsburgh’s U.S. Steel finished in the Top 10 based on growth. Verizon finished third in the growth rankings.

Gone from this year’s rankings are Cecil natural gas producer Rice Energy, acquired in November by EQT for $6.7 billion, and mining equipment maker Joy Global, acquired by Japanese rival Komatsu.

Calgon Carbon, a Moon environmental products and services firm, is making its last appearance. The company was acquired in March by Japan’s Kuraray Co. for $21.50 per share.

New to the list is Evoqua Water Technologies. The Pittsburgh-based water treatment company went public in November, selling nearly 27.8 million shares for $18 a share.

By the numbers: How the rankings were determined

Figures for the Post-Gazette’s Top 50 lists were derived from public company reports, Bloomberg data and Post-Gazette staff research.

Revenue, net income and return on equity data are based on the most recent fiscal year reports filed by each public company as of the close of business March 20. In most cases, that means the numbers are from the 2017 calendar year.

Stock price movements are based on the 2017 calendar year. Market capitalization figures are based on Dec. 29, 2017, closing stock prices.

For overall rankings of the 60 publicly traded companies analyzed, an average score was determined for each of the seven performance categories: revenue and revenue change; net income and net income change; stock price change; market capitalization and return on equity.

Those averages were subtracted from the individual company scores in each category, with the difference divided by the standard deviation for each of the categories. That resulted in a weighted score for each company in each category. The weighted scores for each company in each category were then added up to determine a company’s overall score.

An identical procedure was determined to use the growth rankings, using the categories of revenue change, net income change, stock price change and return on equity.

Len Boselovic: lboselovic@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1941.